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ABI must be our voice

The debate continues on whether we as a protection industry should form our own trade body to represent the views of our market in a more focused manner.

The call for this body is largely based on an opinion which many senior protection figures share – that the Association of British Insurers does not place sufficient priority on protection, focusing more on the needs of other areas of its remit.

Opinions are split on the topic, even among those who agree that such an entity is necessary, with some talking about an Aifa-backed splinter group and others favouring an entirely new and independent organisation, distinct from other trade bodies that, it is perceived, have failed to represent protection robustly enough in the past.

What any industry must have if it wants its causes to be heard and, more importantly, taken seriously in the corridors of power is a unified, authoritative voice. There exist already myriad groups, bodies, associations and initiatives within protection, each championing a specific product, sales or regulatory agenda and each vying to have its say with the Government or the regulator.

The cacophony of noise must be unbearable – with distinct issues hard to pick out from the collective din.

The ABI remains the logical and best placed trade body to represent the views of the protection industry where it matters. Theirs is a voice which is taken seriously by those in authority and can therefore be influential when it comes to champ-ioning our needs.

If the ABI has failed to make protection a priority in the past, then should we as an industry not blame ourselves in some part for not making it such?

Some of the key players in protection have already joined forces with the ABI in revamping its protection strategy committee, with Aviva’s protection director Richard Verdin chairing and Lifesearch supremo Tom Baigrie also on board, with the aim of continuing his campaign to promote the need for protection to the masses.

With people like this, as well as others such as Deepak Jobanputra of PruProtect and Roger Edwards of Royal London involved, it is hard to see the committee becoming just another talking shop.

There are many areas of concern facing our market and the nature of debate means that we will not all agree on how we prioritise these issues when addressing them. What we should agree on though is that the ABI must be our mouthpiece if we want them addressed at all.

Phil Jeynes is head of new business at LifeQuote, Direct Life and Pension Services

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Comments

There are 3 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. The FSA told me there are too many representative bodies as it is, that means we need one representative body for all advice channels not a bunch of ‘splitters’ with mortgages, investments and advice bodies, the ABI represents manufacturers but some of them are unhappy with it, Skandia left some time ago.

  2. Interesting suggestion, Phil. The problem is that the ABI represents insurers and whilst we usually work in tandem it cannot be said that their interests necessarily mirror those of advisers or of consumers.

    Their recent performance has been patchy and the recent P&TD paper suggests that they are a tad out of touch.

    If we take your proposition to the next stage they will be running Adviser Alliance and the other trade body, AIFA. Now that would never do.

  3. If members feel the ABI is not representing their views forcefully enough, then they should do something about it. Whilst there may never be 100% agreement, the majority should have similar views and be able to make sure the ABI voices their views & concerns effectively. If not, stop paying for membership (as distinct from resigning) until they take notice.

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